Balancing Youth Sports: Health Benefits, Specialization, And Considerations

Sports are a great way for kids to improve both their mental and physical health.

The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition Science Board found that participating in sports is associated with lower rates of anxiety and depression, lower stress, higher self-esteem, reduced risk of suicide, increased cognitive performance, increased creativity and increased life satisfaction.

Furthermore, it found that physical activity such as organized sports improves bone health, weight, cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness and reduces a child’s risk of cancer and diabetes.Early Specialization

But there is a downside to participating in youth sports, and that’s when a child participates in tough, year-round training in just one sport, or what experts call early youth sport specialization. That can lead to overuse injuries such as stress fractures.

“There is no evidence that young children will benefit from early sport specialization in the majority of sports,” a panel from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine wrote in a consensus statement. “They are subject to overuse injury and burnout from concentrated activity.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that playing multiple sports is better for young athletes and advocates delaying specialization until late adolescence.Sign Up for the A.M. Report

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“A better, healthier alternative to single sport specialization is for kids to play a variety of sports year-round,” Dr. Peter Fabricant of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. “If a kid loves baseball, they can play that sport for two seasons. The other two seasons, they can participate in recreational or organized sports that don’t involve overhead throwing. That way, they’re giving their arm a rest.”Considerations

Before enrolling your student in a new sport, consider their schedule. Will they have time for practices and games?

Will you have time to take them to practices and games? Do you have a back-up plan in case you can’t be there?

Some sports also require a pretty hefty upfront expense in equipment. Can your family’s budget accommodate that expense for a new sport that your child may not continue to compete in?

Sit down and talk to your child about the commitments and responsibilities involved with being a student athlete and make sure they — and you — are up to the task before signing on the dotted line.

For a complete list of after school programs in Santa Barbara County, check out Noozhawk’s After School Activities Guide.

Physical, Emotional And Social Wellbeing

The three aspects of health are physical, emotional and social. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. 

Physical health

Good physical health is linked to fitness – being able to perform effectively the physical tasks involved in life as well as sport. Being physically healthy includes:enjoying being physically activehaving good balance, coordination and agility in everyday tasks as well as sporthaving the strength, stamina and suppleness required for daily life, work and playhaving fewer illnesses, diseases and injuriesEmotional health

Emotional – or mental – health is linked to personal wellbeing – feeling positive about yourself. Being emotionally healthy includes:having self-esteem and self-respectbeing able to recognise and express feelingsbeing able to manage emotions to suit the situationrecognising and managing the factors that affect emotionsfeeling positive about life (which includes feeling useful and being optimistic about the future)Social health

Social health also contributes to wellbeing – feeling positive about interactions with other people and the wider world. Being socially healthy includes: being able to interact with a range of people and having a sense of belonging having respect, empathy and tolerance for other people being able to manage emotions to suit the situation recognising and managing the effects of actions on others being aware of rights and responsibilities Question

Often feeling anxious and stressed is an indication of which type of poor health – physical, emotional or social?Reveal answer

Frequent anxiety and high levels of stress are indications of poor emotional health.

The Importance Of Health, Fitness And Exercise

123Page 1 of 3can be defined as ‘complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not only the absence of illness or infirmity’. This is an interesting definition as people tend to feel they are healthy simply when they do not feel ill. This definition clearly describes that health is much more and involves feelings of happiness, social interaction and energy.

The components of health are:

How physical, mental and social wellbeing contribute to overall health.

How physical, mental/emotional and social wellbeing contribute to overall health Fitness

Fitness can be defined as ‘the ability to meet the demands of the environment’ and relates to how physically demanding life is. Therefore, a person doing an office job requires lower levels of physical fitness than an Olympic athlete. There is an increasing number of people who work in jobs which don’t require much physical activity. These jobs are described as non-physical or sedentary and mean the level of fitness required to do them is low. This can lead to more people having low levels of fitness and decreasing health levels in society. This would lead to more people having a low level of fitness in society and health levels would decrease. Exercise

Exercisecan be defined as ‘a form of physical exercise done to improve health or fitness or both’. It is recommended that adults and children follow different activity routines in order to maintain good health and fitness:

Adults – five sessions of thirty minutes activity per week. The activity should be physical enough to cause the adult to breathe more deeply and to begin to sweat.

Children and young people – seven sessions of sixty minutes per week. At least two of these sessions should be of high intensity exercise such as running, jumping or cardiovascular based sports. The seven hours may be spread out over the course of a week.

In this context it becomes essential that physical exercise is built into the structure of the typical day. Good examples of this could be walking or cycling together to work or to school, taking part in games together in the back garden and participating in active experiences at the weekend such as walking in the countryside or going for a bike ride. Children learn a great deal from their parents and therefore it is important that parents present active role models and opportunities for their children.The cyclical relationship between health, fitness and exercise 

A positive and negative circle charting the negative and positive effects of excersize

The consequences of a sedentary lifestyle

If a person does not take part in regular physical activity, exercise or sport then they are at risk of a number of illnesses and negative effects such as:weight gain or obesityheart diseasehypertension (high blood pressure)diabetesdepressionincreased risk of osteoporosisloss of muscle toneLifestyle choices

Other lifestyle choices can affect a person’s health in either a positive or negative way.Eating a balanced diet means a person is less likely to become ill or put on excess body fat.Getting enough sleep is important for the body to rest and brain to function optimally.Not smoking as this causes illnesses such as bronchitis and lung cancer.Not taking recreational drugs such as alcohol as in the short term it can lead to disorientation and poor decision-making and in the long term can lead to disease.

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